Boston Red Sox 2013 Season Preview

With pitchers and catchers meeting in Fort Myers, FL this Sunday (Feb.10th) baseball season is officially back!! Well alright, “technically” it’s not back until Feb. 21st when the Red Sox  play Northeastern in their first scheduled Spring Training game. Nevertheless, with the season, and spring, right around the corner; I thought I’d give the Fenway Faithful a preview of what 2013 should look like for the Bo-Sox.

Likely Lineups:

1.OF Shane Victorino

2. OF Jacoby Ellsbury

3. 2B Dustin Pedroia

4. DH David Ortiz

5. 1B Mike Napoli

6. OF Jonny Gomes

7. 3B Will Middlebrooks

8. SS Stephen Drew

9. C Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Granted this is just a rough draft of what the lineup “could look like”. Only John Farrell will truly be able to assemble a proper lineup when spring training is complete. For now, the above lineup is my take on where Farrell may go with the batting order.

The lineup could very well have Ellsbury and Napoli batting Cleanup at 3 and 4 which would then likely shift Dustin Pedroia to bat 2nd in front of Ellsbury and have Papi batting 5th after Napoli. Also, Farrell may choose to have a healthy Ellsbury be the lead-off hitter, which Ellsbury has certainly had success at in seasons past. However if Ellsbury puts up 2011 numbers this season, having him 2nd or 3rd could be more beneficial for the Red Sox as far as RBI production is concerned.

Lastly, the bottom of the order is subject to change as well. Middlebrooks, Gomes, and Drew could all bat lower or higher based on their spring training results. Salty will stay at the bottom of the order until he can prove he’s the switch hitting prodigy he was supposed to be. Only time will tell what the everyday batting order will eventually look like.

5 Man Rotation:

1. Jon Lester. 2. Ryan Dempster. 3. Clay Bucholz. 4. Felix Doubront. 5. John Lackey

While the pitching rotation isn’t exactly terrifying to many teams in the majors, this assembly of arms can get the job done for Boston. Lester and Bucholz will have to bounce back, Dempster will have to pitch more consistently than in seasons past, Felix Doubront will have to prove he wasn’t just a one year wonder baller, and John Lackey will have to return to his prime if the Sox want to get the most wins out of this group.

The rotation may change throughout the season, as it often does, as the Red Sox have options should one of these guys fold. Boston can bring up the likes of Rubby De la Rosa or Allen Webster from Triple-A Pawtucket if those two show they are primed for a big league day job.

Also, Boston could add to the Rotation if they choose to sign still-free-agent starting pitcher Kyle Lohse (formerly with the St. Louis Cardinals). Again like the lineup above, only time will tell what is working, and what needs to be worked out.

The Pen:

Relievers: 1. Andrew Bailey 2. Koji Uehara 3. Daniel Bard 4. Craig Breslow 5. Alfredo Aceves

Closer: Joel Hanrahan

The Red Sox Bullpen as it stands right now is the strongest weapon Boston has entering this season. While the 5-man rotation could use some re-tooling, and our lineup is still missing a big bat or two, the pen looks to have great promise in 2013.

Boston went out in the off-season and added the likes of relievers Koji Uehara and Craig Breslow, and new closer Joel Hanrahan to sure up the 7th,8th and 9th innings for this year. All of which were inexpensive upgrades that should ultimately pay off for the Red Sox.

Win-Loss/ Post-Season Projections:

Though I’m a die-hard Red Sox fan to my very core, I must blog with a sense of realism in making these next few predictions.

Win-Loss Record: 85-77 (I didn’t just come up with this record out of thin air just so you know. I went through the entire schedule and chose game by game what I thought were wins and losses for the Red Sox.)

AL East Finish: I sadly have the Red Sox finishing third this year just ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays by a few games. I see the Toronto Blue Jays meeting everyone’s expectations and winning the east with the Yankees somehow frustratingly finishing in 2nd place. The Orioles return to their usual spot, in the AL East’ cellar in last place.

Postseason: With the Sox finishing third by my count, there will be no post-season play for this Red Sox group. I have the Blue Jays clinching a spot with the division crown and the New York Yankees beating out Boston for the final of two Wild Card spots by a few games.

Final Thoughts: I whole heartedly hope I’m way wrong about my season predictions for the Red Sox. I hope some how, some way, the Red Sox can bring back some of that 2004 magic and sneak into the post-season. Realistically though, I only foresee a minor improvement for Boston as this is a rebuilding year. I look at it this way, ANY results this season should be better than last seasons 69-93 last place finish. How do you see the 2013 season going for Boston? Leave a comment below.

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Ellsbury, Red Sox Avoid Arbitration Agree To $9 Million Deal

Done Deal: The Boston Red Sox and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury successfully avoided arbitration this week as the two sides came to terms on a 1 year deal worth 9 million dollars. Ellsbury missed most of last season with a shoulder injury that kept him sidelined for 79 games.

Ellsbury will look to bounce back this year and put up numbers like he did for Boston back in 2011. In 11′ he finished runner up in the MVP race with a .321 AVG, 32 HR, 105 RBI, and a .928 OPS. Ellsbury will join a Sox outfield that will include off-season acquisitions Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino.

Final Thoughts: Signing Ellsbury to avoid Arbitration was a great move by Boston. It shows Ellsbury that the clubhouse will be willing to negotiate a bigger payday at seasons end (which is when Jacoby becomes a free agent). Which in turn, should have Ellsbury feeling good and ready to put up big numbers again.

The biggest key for Jacoby, as we all know, is just to stay healthy in 2013. What do you think? Will Jacoby bounce back this year? Can he stay healthy to play a full season? Leave a comment below.

Red Sox Offseason Options

ImageDecisions, Decisions: In an effort to sure up most of the remaining holes on our roster, the Boston Red Sox have been talking business with a few guys who could fit the bill. Free agent catcher Mike Napoli  and free agent outfielders Nick Swisher, Shane Victorino, Ryan Ludwick, and Nate McClouth are all on Boston’s radar.

The Sox have already inked career back up catcher David Ross and outfielder Jonny Gomes at little cost. So, Boston is trying to make a few moves, in the upcoming winter meetings, to bolster the rest of the roster for next season.

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Let’s take a look at some of the Sox’s options in the free agency market:

Mike Napoli C/1B– Batted .227 with 24 HR and 56 RBI in 2012. He’s a career .259 hitter with 146 HR and 380 RBI. Napoli, age 31, offers flexibility for Boston, being able to play catcher or first base, and he offers a solid bat in the lineup.

Nick Swisher OF- Batted .272 with 24 HR and 93 RBI for 2012. Swish is a career .256 hitter with 209 HR and 673 RBI. At 32-years-old, Swisher offers veteran experience and is known throughout the MLB as a great clubhouse personality and a gamer. With Ellsbury, a re-signed Ross (hopefully) and Swisher/Gomes the outfield would certainly be set. But, Swisher will likely seek too much money and fall off our list.

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Shane Victorino OF- Batted .255 with 11 HR and 55 RBI in 2012. Victorino is a career .275 hitter with 90 HR and 409 RBI. Victorino, also 32, would offer veteran experience like Swisher, but may not offer the same numbers Swisher can in the batters box. However, Victorino would be a more affordable option.

Ryan Ludwick OF- Batted .275 with 26 HR and 80 RBI in 2012. Ludwick is a .263 career hitter with 143 HR and 530 RBI. Ludwick had a Cody Ross-esque year with the Cincinnati Reds and would be another veteran guy to add like Swish and Shane. But, at age 34, the question can be asked, how much longer will Ludwick produce? Also Ludwick’ stats may have swelled due to playing in Great American Ballpark (one of the smaller parks to play in, which allows for a higher HR/RBI production).

Nate McClouth OF- batted .241 with 7 HR and 20 RBI in 2012. McClouth is a career .248 hitter with 88 HR and 290 RBI. McClouth’s numbers don’t exactly jump off the screen in the sense of production, but at 31-years-old, he could be a role player option (much like Gomes will be) if the Sox miss out on other outfielders.

Final Thoughts: The Good News: Boston will have plenty of options to consider going into the winter meetings. The Bad News: This year’s market for players, is one of the weakest in recent memory. The Sox will have to be smart and carefully consider who their best choices will be this off-season.

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Another position the Sox will need to address, finding a starting pitcher to sure up the rotation. There are a few big names in free agency like Zack Greinke, Kyle Lohse, and Anibal Sanchez. However, Boston may resort to filling in the rotation by way of trade, instead of splurging on a starter.

 

Who do you think the Sox should sign next? Should they go after a big name like Josh Hamilton or Greinke? Leave a comment below.

Red Sox Could Sign Outfielder Jonny Gomes Soon

Shipping Up to Boston: The Boston Red Sox continue to stay busy this off-season as recent reports indicate the Sox and free agent outfielder Jonny Gomes are close to finalizing a two year contract. Financial terms have not yet been disclosed.

Gomes would certainly offer depth to the outfield and is regarded as a leader throughout the MLB, both on the field and in the clubhouse. Gomes would also provide needed experience back in the warning track as he’s a 10 year veteran. He played well for the Oakland Athletics last season batting .262 with 18HR and 47RBI. Gomes is a career .244 hitter with 136 HR, and 411 RBI.

Fun Fact: Jonny Gomes has similar career numbers against lefties to that of 2012 Red Sox outfielder/ current free agent Cody Ross.

Gomes against left handed pitchers: .284AVG, .382 OBP, and .512OPS

Ross against left handed pitchers: 284, 353OBP, 575OPS

If nothing else signing Gomes for cheap (much like the Sox did with cather David Ross) will provide needed flexibility to the outfield for little cost. Also to be noted, the BoSox are still working to try and resign Ross. If the Sox could get Gomes and Ross, the outfield would be in good, possibly even great, shape for next season.

Final Thoughts: I want to hear from the Fenway Faithul. Who do you think the Red Sox should go after next? Should the Red Sox take a stab at a high-dollar free agent this off-season? Leave a comment below.